Les Saisons Russes du XX1e Siecle Returns to the London Coliseum in July

United KingdomUnited Kingdom   Following a triumphant Coliseum Diaghilev Festival debut in 2011 and four successful seasons in Paris at the Theatre des Champs Elysees

Les Saisons Russes in Spectre de la Rose
Les Saisons Russes in Spectre de la Rose

Andris Liepa, former Bolshoi Ballet star turned ballet entrepreneur, is to return to the London Coliseum with his company Les  Saisons Russes du XX1e Siecle from July 16th to July 20th 2013. The company will perform three programmes – a total of six ballets – which will include the London premiere of Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein, choreographed by Patrick de Bana plus five of Mikhail Fokine’s greatest works:  Le Spectre de la Rose, Scheherazade, Chopiniana, Polovetsian Dances and The Firebird.

London Coliseum, St Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4ES
Dates:           July 16th-19th at 7.30pm
July 17th at 2.00pm;
July 20th at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Tickets: www.eno.org or 020 7845 9300




Programme 1          Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein, Le Spectre de la Rose, The Firebird

Tuesday July 16th at 7.30pm and Wednesday July 17th at 7.30pm

 Special matinee Wednesday July 17th at 2.00pm  Programme: Chopiniana,  The Firebird


Programme 2          Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein, Scheherazade

Thursday July 18th at 7.30pm and Friday July 19th at 7.30pm


Programme 3          Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein, Chopiniana, Polovetsian Dances

Saturday July 20th at 2.30pm and 7.30pm

Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein is choreographer Patrick de Bana’s tribute to the enigmatic actress/dancer Ida Rubinstein (1885-1960) and star of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes who danced in the title role during the company’s Paris season of 1909. Ida danced with the company for two years; adored for her luminous stage presence and dancing, Ida became a popular Belle Epoque figure in the arts world and a generous benefactor. De Bana draws on history and urban myth to create Ida’s mysterious, glamorous world as she rehearses and performs what was to become her greatest role. Cléopâtre – Ida Rubinstein recounts the story of the creation of Cléopâtre by Fokine in 1909; De Bana has chosen music by the great composers who collaborated regularly with the Ballets Russes such as Stravinsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Glazunov, Faure and Ravel in addition to music by Omar Faruk Tekbilek, the renowned Turkish flautist and one of the world’s foremost exponents of Middle Eastern music.

Ilze Liepa as Cleopatra - Ida Rubinstein
Ilze Liepa as Cleopatra – Ida Rubinstein

Le Spectre de la Rose is based on a poem by the French Romantic poet and dramatist Théophile Gautier with music by Carl Maria von Weber. Choreography is by Fokine and set and costume design by the celebrated artist/designer Léon Bakst.  The work, which Ballets Russes premiered in 1911 at the Théâtre de Monte Carlo, tells the story of a debutante – originally performed by Tamara Karsavina – who falls asleep after her first ball and dreams that she is dancing with the rose – Vaslav Nijinsky in the original –  that she has been holding in her hand.   Her dream ends when the rose escapes through the window. Andris and Ilze Liepa’s father, Maris Liepa, was considered to be one of the finest dancers of his generation; a principal soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet, he famously revived Fokine’s choreography for Le Spectre de la Rose, and performed the title role many times. It is his version that Andris Liepa is bringing to London in July.

Scheherazade is a symphonic suite composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov in 1888 based on One Thousand and One Nights  (also known as The Arabian Nights).  Classically exotic and influenced by the dazzling colours and costumes of the Far East – thrillingly fashionable and excitingly new in the history of Imperial Russia – the music for Scheherazade is used in a ballet by Fokine in a racy tale of entrapment, betrayal and murder. In 1993 Andris Liepa set about restoring Scheherazade with the help of Fokine’s granddaughter, Isabelle Fokina. The restored ballet – along with Petrushka and Firebird were filmed and the result, ‘The Return of Firebird’, was an award-winning feature film directed and produced by Andris Liepa.

Chopiniana is a dreamy, romantic ballet blanc that was born in St Petersburg in 1907 and moved to Paris in 1909 under the new name of Les Sylphides. Fokine’s original choreography, set to music by Chopin, was introduced to the public in 1893 and conducted by Rimsky-Korsakov. “It defies an obvious single label – it’s a ballet of mood, a white ballet, a choreographic suite. It is pure, simple and requires no introduction or context. It is ballet-for-ballet’s sake and breathtakingly beautiful.”  (dancetabs)

The Polovetsian Dances are perhaps the best known selections from Alexander Borodin‘s opera Prince Igor (1890) and are often played as a stand-alone concert piece. The opera was left unfinished at Borodin’s death and was subsequently completed by composers Rimsky-Korsakov and Glazunov. The first dance follows The Chorus of the Polovetsian Maidens which opens the act and is followed by Konchakovna’s Cavatina.   Ilze Liepa will dance the lead role in a staging that uses replicas of the costumes designed by the Russian painter and philosopher Nicholas Roerich for the original production.

The Firebird is a ballet and orchestral concert work by Stravinsky written for and successfully premiered at the 1910 Paris season of Ballets Russes with choreography by Fokine.  The ballet is based on Russian folk tales of the magical glowing bird of the same name that is both a blessing and a curse to its captor. Stravinsky was a virtually unknown composer when Diaghilev recruited him to create works for the Ballets Russes; The Firebird was his first project.

 The Art of Revival:

The names of Diaghilev, Fokine, Nijinsky and many others were dimmed in their native country for decades after they chose to stay in the West following the 1917 Revolution. Andris Liepa has devoted a large part of his career to resurrecting the Russian Seasons ballets in their original form: “After the Revolution,” explains Liepa, “many artists left Russia and went West. The idea of reviving and bringing these artists and wonderful works back to life, and particularly back to Russia where they began, started on my birthday, January 6th 1991 when I visited Diaghilev’s grave on the island of San Michele near Venice. I saw the shoes dancers leave on his grave and I felt I had to give something too, so I danced my father’s version of Diaghilev’s Le Spectre de la Rose. In 1992 thanks to the Lunacharsky Library (now the St Petersburg State Theatre Library) I was able to see the things that Fokine had had sent to Leningrad that no one had seen for decades.”

PATRICK DE BANA:           Born in Hamburg to a German mother and Nigerian father, ballet dancer and choreographer Patrick de Bana studied at Hamburg Ballet School; he joined Béjart Ballet Lausanne in 1987 and Compania Nacional de Danza of Spain – National Dance Company of Spain in 1992 where his repertoire included works by Nacho Duato, Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin, William Forsythe, Mats Ek and more; he also began developing artistic ties with the world of flamenco. In 2003 Patrick formed his own company, Nafas Dance Company; he worked with Spanish film director and photographer, Carlos Saura, choreographing and performing in the tango film ‘Iberia’ (2004) and the fado music and dance documentary ‘Fados’ (2006). In 2007 Patrick toured Europe with acclaimed fado singer Mariza and with flamenco star Eva La Yerbabuena. Patrick has choreographed many ballets including ‘Aman’, a ballet inspired by the Greek myths of Penelope and Ulysses; ‘Kelmady’, about the cyclical nature of waiting; ‘Creatures’ which the Tokyo Ballet premiered in 2010; and ‘Jane Eyre’ for Shanghai Ballet which premieres at the London Coliseum in August.

ANDRIS LIEPA was born in 1962 into a famous artistic family; his father Maris Liepa was one of the Bolshoi’s legendary dancers. Andris trained at Moscow Ballet School and then joined the Bolshoi Ballet Company, dancing the leads in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Swan Lake and many more. In 1988 Andris became the first Russian dancer who was officially allowed to work in a foreign company; he subsequently appeared as a guest artist with New York City Ballet and then American Ballet Theatre for whom he interpreted Siegfried in Baryshnikov’s version of Swan Lake. He has also appeared with Maurice Bejart’s Ballet of the 20th Century and was a permanent guest soloist with the Kirov Ballet. Andris has won prizes at many international competitions; he is the author of the film project The Return of the Firebird for which he revived three legendary masterpieces by Fokine: Petrushka, Firebird, and Scheherazade. In addition to dancing the lead roles in all three ballets, he was also producer and director. Together with his sister Ilze, Andris founded the Maris Liepa Charitable Foundation. He is the inspiration and director, manager and producer of The Russian Seasons of the 21st Century.